It's a well-worn cliche that if you want to have a quality product, then you have to pay for it. But even at the most basic levels there are still the stars and the clunkers. When it comes to budget-level projectors, this ViewSonic is the one making the heavy clanging sounds.
While people's expectations will no doubt be low -- this is under a thousand dollars, and there are projectors over $20,000! -- it's in the presence of budget stars like the BenQ W1080 that the ViewSonic Pro8200 starts to unravel.
The Pro8200's main problem is that it crushes shadow detail, which is a very old trick used to make an image look like it "pops" but really destroys image quality. The ViewSonic is one of the worst displays when it comes to displaying shadow detail: it simply can't. When you read further down the list of things it does "wrong" -- blows out colors, poor black levels, etc -- the ViewSonic presents a worse value than before. Get either the BenQ W1070 or W1080 instead: same DLP technology, only executed with care. They're easily worth the extra couple hundred dollars.
If this was a competition to design the projector that looked more expensive than it actually was, then the Pro8200 would win. Judged against competitors like the BenQ W1070 and, the ViewSonic at least looks like it means business. There is a distinct Darth Vader thing going on here, from the ridged zoom control to the jet black lens cover "helmet" and general color scheme. The Pro8200 is relatively coffee-table friendly at 13.1 inches wide, 4.3 inches high, and 10.4 inches deep.
The projector comes with a backlit remote control but the ergonomics are a little iffy -- for example the "Video" input button is in the same place most other companies put their "Menu" buttons.
The menu system is straightforward but it would be helpful if it minimized when making individual picture adjustments.
3D glasses included
Zoom and focus
Up to 6000 hours
Replacement lamp cost
The Pro8200 is a little long in the tooth now having debuted at the start of 2011, though projectors don't conform to the same rapid release schedule as televisions. This model, like the BenQ 1080 is a DLP projector based on DarkChip3 technology.
As a somewhat older unit the ViewSonic lacks some of the mod-cons now seen at the sub-$1,000 level. The most obvious is the lack of 3D which while not mandatory is a "nice to have." It does have a 10W "stereo" speaker though.
As always you will need to replace the lamp periodically but the advertised life is higher than normal at up to 6000 hours. The ViewSonic Web site has the replacement RLC-061 lamp at $329 but Amazon and other sites have the price at half that.
At this range you can expect some setup options to go missing, so the complete lack of lens shift is no surprise. The unit included a 1.5x zoom lens capable of a maximum image of 300 inches from up to 10 yards away. There's also a (rather good) keystone control and adjustable feet on the front and back of the unit.